• In 1975 and 1976, according to a Senate committee report, the CIA eavesdropped on various independence movements in American-occupied Micronesia, and recorded conversations that may or may not have been subversive. The CIA can't find a trustworthy linguist to translate the tapes, you see.
• And here's a report from Turkey, where Traditional Values are revered: "In the permissive, confused atmosphere of the cities, young people often look for heroic models and easy answers. The leftists brandish posters of Che Guevara and Mao Tse-tung. The rightists revere Tamerlaine and Attila the Hun." (New York Times, May 23, 1977). Didn't know YAF had a chapter in Turkey.
• Lewis B. Hershey, Slavecatcher General to six presidents, died on May 20, 1977, at the age of 83. As head of the Selective Service System during three wars, he presided over the forcible abduction of more than 14 million American boys. Although the obituaries did not reveal how many of his victims died, the number was certainly enough to qualify him as a mass-murderer far outstripping Manson, Corll, and Starkweather combined. Oh yes; Hershey died peacefully, without fear of prosecution, in his sleep.
• According to Tass, the Soviet's supersonic TU-144, also called the Concordsky, will soon be equipped with three pairs of wings—it already has two, counting the small, retractable wings behind the cockpit. As the Los Angeles Times put it: "This latest modification would seem to confirm Western experts' suspicions that the TU-144 has basic design flaws."
• Some observations on the new government In Israel: Menahem Begin, head of the ruling Likud faction (and probably Prime Minister by the time you read this), is called a "terrorist" in some circles because during the British Mandate he headed the Irgun Zvai Leumi. The Irgun did admirable things like snuffing out British officials; and not-so-admirable things like massacring over 200 Arab men, women, and children at the village of Deir Yassin. The Arab press holds that this background makes Begin unfit to be a head of state; this column would tend to hold the contrary. However, the Irgun never claimed that its crimes were for its victims' own good, so perhaps Begin does lack that essential political skill.…As for the occupied West Bank (which Begin calls "liberated Israel"), while Begin calls for "many" new Jewish settlements there, he did tell Newsweek: "We will not expel the Arabs from their land." Moshe Dayan, Begin's choice for Foreign Minister, has said he wants a system where "Jews would not be allowed to drive the Arabs from their homes, but neither would they be prevented from buying land on the West Bank if the Arabs wanted to sell." In contrast; the Labor government coercively limited Jewish settlement to about 40 sites (chosen for strategic value)—located on stolen land. Supposedly Dayan got Begin to drop the notion of annexing the West Bank, and since ex-Prime Minister Rabin was just as opposed to West Bank independence as Begin is, the inhabitants will likely be no worse off than before.
• Believe it or not, some Arkansas legislatoid introduced a bill that would have required permits for living in sin. The bill, which happily died in committee, would have required unmarried Arkansas couples to get a permit, pass blood tests, and pay a "privilege tax" of $1500 each before they could legally cohabit. Its sponsor claimed such measures are necessary, or else "The American family may pass from existence."
• Just when we had gotten used to the idea of the B-1 bomber costing a hundred megabucks a throw, here comes the GAO saying that it will actually cost $117 million. Add the cost of missiles, maintenance, and a new tanker to refuel it (the Air Farce is already hinting that the B-1's range without refueling will be only 4300 miles—down from 6100; at one time it was going to be 10,000 miles), and a fleet of 244 will cost $90 billion over the next three decades, according to the New Republic. NR also quotes libertarian A. Ernest Fitzgerald, the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of the Air Force who blew the whistle on the C-5A overruns and got fired for his pains, as saying that in the late 1960's he was briefed on what would be the best manned bomber to penetrate Soviet air defense—and it was very different from the B-1. "The B-1, in Fitzgerald's view, may be intended by the Air Force mainly for use in future Vietnams: 'It will do a very good job of raining bombs on the cannibals—at a very high cost.'" Incidently, chief among those who hollered for Fitzgerald's scalp over the C-5A was Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown, now Secretary of Defense and supporter of the B-1.
• An ad in the Washington Post says that the book A Sexual Profile of Men in Power provides "conclusive evidence that men in politics are 'much more sexually active than the average man'"—surely the understatement of the decade. Your typical Congress-man screws 214 million Americans every day; could even Harry Reems match that?
• If you are 16 or younger, you can be a happy, prosperous smack salesman in New York. Thanks to the malodorous Nelson Rockefeller, anyone convicted of dealing in hard drugs in that state must get a life sentence. But the law doesn't apply to juveniles, so "hundreds" of enterprising Empire State youths now deliver narcotics for adult pushers and retire at 16 with "hundreds of thousands of dollars," according to the New York Times—which finds it "appalling," of course. To hear the good gray Times tell it, "a 15-year-old driving a $12,000 Mercedes-Benz or placing $500 or $1000 bets on schoolyard basketball games" is the victim of "tragic ensnarement." They're probably just upset because nobody wants to be a paper boy anymore.
• The Decadence of Modern Literature, as seen by Gore Vidal: "In his lowbrow way [Herman Wouk] reflects what one has come to think of as the Commentary syndrome or all's right with America if you're not in a gas chamber, and making money." (Quoted in The Village Voice: May 9,1977.)
• Those who abhor the desecration of the American flag should be pleased to know that Nixon no longer wears one in his lapel.
• Ho hum. The Peanut has ordered the Presidential yacht auctioned off. So did Hoover, Eisenhower, Johnson and Tricky, with great fanfare. The Navy soon gave them new ones, very quietly.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".